February 08, 2011
This GPS system allows users to text friends, family and emergency services from remote locations using satellite technology.
This September, I was fortunate to hunt with Winterhawk Outfitters in Colorado. Set up in the Flat Tops Wilderness, our spike camp was about seven miles in, and cell service was nonexistent. I chose to field test DeLorme's Earthmate PN-60w with SPOT Satellite Communicator; the world's first handheld GPS with Type & Send outbound-only text satellite messaging.
This GPS system allows users to text friends, family and emergency services from remote locations using satellite technology. The PN-60w with SPOT is perfect for users checking in and describing their exact status at that moment. If an emergency does occur, there is an easy-to-use SOS feature, which sends GPS coordinates to rescuers and also allows users to type a message providing more details of their predicament.
If the PN-60w should be lost or broken, the SPOT has a SOS button that serves as a fail-safe. A subscription is required for SPOT activation. This includes a user-friendly Web site (www.findmespot.com) and online topo map that lets friends track your location when the SPOT is activated.
The Web site also has an option that allows you to input and save update messages, which can be sent to contacts you've saved to your online account. Users can create and save custom maps with road and trail routes to their GPS thanks to included Topo North America 9.0 GPS mapping software.
Using the mapping software, users get 3-D and 360-degree rotation for highly detailed views. Testing the PN-60w with SPOT, I found the unit simple to set up and extremely easy to use. During my six-day hunt, I sent daily updates to my family and friends, and I also monitored how many miles we walked each day, tallying nearly 32 miles by the end of the hunt.
The built-in compass and altimeter also came in handy. Last, the GPS quickly acquired satellites and never failed to connect to the SPOT unit. MSRP: $550
CONTACT: DeLorme, 800-561-5105; www.delorme.com